Impeachment trial of President Trump

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:24 AM ET, Sat January 25, 2020
21 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:48 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Graham says he missed the airing of his 1999 comments because he's been "sick as a dog"

Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham missed the airing of his 1999 comments about impeachment at the trial this week because he said he was "sick as a dog."

Asked about the video clip, which was aired Thursday during the Democrats' opening remarks, Graham noted how much he's aged since then, then reasserted that there's no statutory crime in this case. 

He said he wished he had been in the room to watch himself, but took frequent breaks because he's been "sick as a dog.... I have spent more time in the bathroom than I normally do." 

About the video clip: House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler played the clip of Graham arguing that "high crimes" don't "even need to be a crime," a statement that runs counter to a central Republican talking point in President Trump's impeachment trial.

Graham, a fierce Trump ally, was not on the Senate floor when the video played, but Republican Sen. Ben Sasse could be seen whispering something to him on his way back in, and Graham smiled.

1:40 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Jeffries: "The President tried to cheat. He got caught, and he worked hard to cover it up."

Senate TV
Senate TV

House manager Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic congressman from New York, claimed in his remarks that the President worked hard to hide his misconduct.

"The President tried to cheat. He got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up," he said. 

Jeffries said that by July 2019, White House officials were aware of "serious allegations of misconduct by President Trump" regarding the withheld military aid to Ukraine. "But instead of halting the President's corrupt scheme, they worked overtime to conceal it from the American people," he said.

"As additional evidence mounted, the Republicans worked hard to keep the American people from learning about the president's misconduct. Secretary of State Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Esper and John Bolton tried to convince President Trump to lift the hold on the security assistance. They failed." 

"The $391 million in security aid was only released because President Trump was caught red-handed," he said.

1:15 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

McConnell lays out what the next two days looks like

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went over scheduling details for today and tomorrow at the start of the impeachment trial.

Here's what you can expect:

  • Today: The House managers will wrap up their opening remarks. Meanwhile, senators will take short breaks every two to three hours, he said. At some point, they'll take a 30-minute recess for dinner if needed.
  • Tomorrow: The session will start at 10 a.m. ET and "run for several hours" as the President's defense team lays our their opening arguments.

1:09 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Schiff: Chief Justice Roberts can decide executive privilege questions

From CNN's Haley Byrd and Manu Raju

Chief Justice Roberts
Chief Justice Roberts Senate Television via Getty Images

Rep. Adam Schiff pushed back on the GOP argument that claims of executive privilege could substantially delay the Senate impeachment trial if witnesses are called. Chief Justice John Roberts, he said, would be able to make decisions about evidence and privilege. 

“Unlike in the House, where the President could play rope-a-dope in the courts for years, that is not an option for the President's team here, and it gives no refuge to people who want to hide behind executive privilege to avoid the truth coming out,” said Schiff.

He continued: “We have a very capable justice, sitting in that Senate chamber, empowered by the Senate rules to decide issues of evidence and privilege. And so if any of these witnesses have a colorable claim that they wish to make or the President on their behalf, we have a justice who is able to make those determinations, and we trust that the Chief Justice can do so.”

“The Senate will always have the opportunity to overrule the justice,” Schiff added, “But what they fear, what the President’s team fears, is that the Justice will in fact apply executive privilege to that very narrow category where it may apply. And here, that category may be nowhere at all, because you cannot use executive privilege to hide wrongdoing or criminality or impeachable misconduct. And that is exactly the purpose for which they seek to use it.” 

1:06 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

The trial is back in session

The Senate just reconvened for the fourth day of the impeachment trial. The Democratic House impeachment managers will finish making their opening arguments, which they began giving on Wednesday.

After the Democrats finish, Trump's legal team will be given the same amount of time — 24 hours over the course of three days — to make their case.

1:04 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Shorter session expected for impeachment trial on Saturday

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Republican Sen. John Thune told CNN that the Saturday session of the Senate's impeachment trial is expected to go from 10 a.m. ET to around 1 p.m. ET.

CNN reported on Thursday that senators were considering this idea. 

One thing to note: The President's defense team will be delivering their opening statements that day.

12:55 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Here's who to watch during the witness debate (and it's not on-the-fence senators)

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

We're still not sure if the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump will have witnesses: Senators can vote on motions to subpoena them after opening arguments.

At least 51 senators must vote in order to subpoena documents and witnesses. If all 47 senators who caucus with the Democrats vote for the motion, at least four Republican senators would need to join them in order to pass it.

What to watch in the coming days: Here's a good rule of thumb on whether Democrats will have the votes to move to subpoena witnesses and documents — the leading indicator likely won't be the on-the-fence GOP senators. It will likely be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

If McConnell gets the sense he's going to lose the vote on whether to consider witnesses, history would show he will move quickly to take control of the process and try and shift it toward his and his conference's favor.

In this case, that would likely mean moving firmly behind Ted Cruz's "reciprocity" idea, which would involve Republicans pursuing someone like Hunter Biden if Democrats pursue their preferred witnesses.

To be clear: McConnell isn't even close to doing this right now (which is part of the reason Democrats don't currently think they'll win the vote). But if he starts heading in that direction, you can be sure he's been told he's going to lose more than three Republicans on the witness vote.

12:46 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Meanwhile, here are today’s top stories other than impeachment

Disinfectant is sprayed on a train as a precaution against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, on January 24.
Disinfectant is sprayed on a train as a precaution against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, on January 24. Ahn Young-joon/AP

President Trump’s impeachment trial continues in Washington today, but The Brief’s Bianca Nobilo has been keeping track of the day’s headlines outside Capitol Hill.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • China on lockdown: Beijing is struggling to contain Wuhan coronavirus. Travel restrictions have been placed on nearly a dozen cities across the country, affecting around 30 million people. Authorities have also closed major attractions to tourists, including parts of the Great Wall of China, in an effort to stem the infection’s spread.
  • Iraq protests: Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Baghdad on Friday, calling for US troops to leave the country. The march comes after a US attack in Iraq killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani.
  • US refuses to extradite diplomat’s wife: Anne Sacoolas was charged in December with causing death by dangerous driving in the case of Harry Dunn. The British teenager was killed in August while riding a motorcycle. UK police say he was hit by a vehicle traveling on the wrong side of the road. Washington declined Britain’s extradition request today, citing Sacoolas’ diplomatic status at the time of the crash.
  • Locusts in East Africa: The Horn of Africa has been hit by the worst invasion of desert locusts in 25 years. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that the insects could seriously threaten food security in the region. The last invasion of desert locusts in the area occurred in 2007, at a much smaller scale.

Watch more:

12:11 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Trump tweeted 54 times before noon today

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

President Trump just sent his 54th tweet of the day. The large majority of the tweets and retweets today are on impeachment and criticizing Democrats.

Here's the 11:56 a.m. ET tweet:

In his latest Trump writes, “ The Do Nothing Democrats just keep repeating and repeating, over and over again, the same old “stuff” on the Impeachment Hoax. They want to use up ALL of their time, even though it is the wrong thing to do. They ought to go back to work for our great American people!”